Many schools teach facts. Willow teaches understanding.
There is a big difference between knowing something and understanding it. Willow students are expected to acquire knowledge and demonstrate their capacity to analyze, evaluate, apply, and explain their learning to others. Our comprehensive curriculum encompasses eight primary disciplines (Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, World Language, Arts, Library, and Wellness) and is designed for the way children learn best. In conjunction with our Virtues Program and Academic Innovations unique to our school, Willow students have every opportunity to learn with purpose and lead with character.
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Principles Guiding the Willow Curriculum
Dummy to Close First Accordion
Too often, schools are structured in ways that feel more like an assembly line than a model for meaningful learning. Willow is different because our curriculum is intentionally designed for the ways that children learn best. Here, every learning experience has an intellectual and ethical purpose. Students don’t skim the surface on important topics. Instead, they delve deeply into a subject from multiple perspectives, learn through experience, and form an understanding of complex ideas through interdisciplinary studies and place-based education.
Look into any Willow classroom and you will see that our students learn by doing. Preschoolers use math manipulatives to build number sense. Kindergarteners gain a concrete understanding of the life cycle by observing the evolution of an insect from caterpillar to butterfly. Fifth graders demonstrate their understanding of hunter-gatherer cultures by curating a museum. Experiential learning engages students and provides them with opportunities to take risks, learn from their mistakes, and expand their intellectual capacity. The skills students learn in the Lower School, such as inquiry, critical thinking, and problem solving, are reinforced, strengthened, and applied to more complex and challenging research projects in Middle School.
Connections make learning more meaningful. That’s why many aspects of the Willow curriculum are interdisciplinary, and study is connected across different subject areas. The first-grade study of community for instance, involves social studies, language arts, and math, as students study money and use their knowledge of monetary values and addition/subtraction in their studies of places like the bank, market, etc. Virtues are incorporated as first graders investigate the responsibilities of community members during trips to local organizations and non-profits, while reverse weaving in Handcrafts is a tactile activity that underscores the idea of cohesion within communities. By examining a central theme from multiple disciplines, Willow students become critical thinkers and creative problem solvers.
Willow’s 34-acre campus is an extraordinary learning laboratory. We use our streams for scientific investigation, our woods and native plant growth for the study of phenology, and our LEED certified buildings for math exercises like the graphing and prediction of energy consumption. Our attention to place-based education uses the campus to immerse students in the unique history, environment, culture, and art of our area and region. Here, student learning emerges from and is rooted in meaningful experiences in their daily lives.